The Wild just caught Edmonton goaltender Cam Talbot at an inopportune time.
While Saturday was Talbot’s first game back after missing about three weeks because of an upper-body injury, he wasn’t feeling any lag from sitting out six games. Quite the contrary, in fact.
“I felt great,” Talbot said. “Two-and-a-half-week vacation.”
Nice, then, for the Wild to extend that break a bit by recording only two shots in the first 14 minutes of the game. The Wild eventually stepped up its game and outshot Edmonton 31-29, but it wasn’t enough to overcome the Oilers in a 3-2 loss Saturday at Xcel Energy Center in front of an announced 19,034 fans.
“Yeah, a disappointing start to the first period and the third period. Then they scored the first goal in the second period,” Wild coach Bruce Boudreau said. “I don’t know. Obviously, I didn’t get them ready enough to play or they didn’t get themselves ready enough to play. Or maybe a combination of both.”
The Wild (17-12-3) had been on a four-game winning streak, which matched its longest of the season. The loss to Edmonton (14-17-2) also broke a home winning streak of five games and a season-best eight-game home point streak.
The biggest action of the first period for the Wild was an injury scare toward the end for winger Jason Zucker. He took defenseman Ryan Suter’s shot off his left knee and then fielded winger Charlie Coyle’s rebound off his elbow. He needed help limping off the ice and down the tunnel but was back on the bench to start the second.
Edmonton managed the breakthrough goal at 9 minutes, 15 seconds in the second period. Center Ryan Nugent-Hopkins grabbed on to the feed from winger Zack Kassian on a two-on-one to beat Wild goaltender Alex Stalock. The goal came shorthanded, even though Edmonton had the worst penalty kill in the league, at 72.11 percent, entering this game.
The referees were quite whistle-happy, calling Edmonton for four penalties and the Wild for six, including one to end the game when the Wild was looking for the tying score. The Wild was 0-for-4 on its power play, negating its first attempt after 49 seconds with a tripping penalty from Coyle.
“Not ideal at all,” Coyle said of his team’s power-play struggles. “We’ve got to tighten things up, I think. Stay more simple. … We’ve got to watch some video and check things out and come back and kind of work on it.”
Wild defenseman Matt Dumba equalized at 13:18 of the second period, taking winger Mikael Granlund’s feed for a one-time blast past Talbot. But Edmonton winger Milan Lucic put his team ahead again at 16:37.
Stalock made some random Wild history at 1:35 in the third period when he skated out of his crease to clear the puck and ended up recording a 167-foot wrist shot from the defensive zone on goal. That’s the first time in franchise history a goalie has done that.
Edmonton extended its lead at 8:32 in the second on Jesse Puljujarvi’s goal. But Dumba unleashed yet another one-timer blast, this time from Chris Stewart and Eric Staal, with five minutes left in the game to put the Wild back within one.
“Those two rolling pucks to the middle, they’re tough to read coming off his stick,” Talbot said of Dumba’s goals. “He does have a good one-timer when he gets it off. Those are just laying to him right in the middle of the slot there. But hard to read that off his tape when they’re wobbling like that.”